Author Archives: Miranda

Sri Lanka National ICT Resources

Sri Lanka’s most detailed and useful ICT policy can be found here.

Last updated: December 1, 2003

Published by: The World Bank

Language: English

 

Other updates to the policy can be found at this link.

There have been various reports detailing updates to the policy from 2004 to 2012.

Last updated: December 8, 2012

Published by: The World Bank

Language: English

 

Here is the website for the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka.

Here is the website for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Telecommunications.

 

Sri Lanka’s information can be found within the EIU rankings, the Global Information Technology Report rankings, and the ITU rankings.

 

The World Bank has updated information about Sri Lanka.

 

Here is an ICT4D development movement that was helpful.

Published by: Sarvodaya

Language: English

 

While Sri Lanka is definitely growing in the ICT sector, it can be difficult to find specific information about the projects that they have done and their policies. This lack of information made some of the research confusing and challenging at times. I would not discourage you from choosing Sri Lanka, however, because I found it to be very interesting. There is some good information out there, and hopefully this eases the searching.


ICT4D – A Semester of Knowledge

Before this class, ICT4D was just an acronym that I really did not understand. Little did I know that I would come to be involved in many aspects of the ICT4D field, using Twitter, blogs, mapping, and other technologies to broaden our class knowledge base and get engaged. I would have never known how big the ICT4D field really is, not to mention how easy it is to be involved in it as well. With these connections via various modes of communicative technology, as well as multiple visits from speakers within the ICT4D field, our class gained many different perspectives and a wealth of knowledge.

The truth is, most ICT projects do not work. One of the most important lessons that I have learned in the classroom this semester is that the latest and greatest technology is not always best. Upon entering the classroom, I never thought about the challenges or complications of inserting technology into a country. In order to even try to initiate a successful project with ICTs, these things must be considered. What I will take away from this class is not only why ICT initiatives fail, but also how we can work to make those ICT initiatives better.

Keeping technology simple and relevant is the best option. The technology that will be implemented has to be fitting for the targeted area. Development professionals must always be thinking about design, connectivity, monitoring and evaluation, stakeholders, and so many other concepts crucial to the creation of a successful project. We have seen countless examples where ICTs are brought into an area that do not have proper supportive infrastructure for this kind of technology. Mobile phones, OLPC, and m-learning projects in so many countries are prime examples of this. Our class did not simply focus on the failures though. I distinctly remember discussing spending an entire class period discussing the success of ICT during Hurricane Sandy and how that success could be applied in developing countries.

I truly appreciated the relevance of this class to my everyday life. Unfortunately there are classes that I take here at Tulane that do not give me real life applications or skills that I can use for my future career plans. ICT4D proved to be relevant in so many aspects, showing real life examples of how the field was making changes as they were happening. This class used hands-on approaches to learning that made me really feel like I was learning and contributing to something. This class has given me knowledge and tools that I will take with me in my future with development. I hope to further my knowledge of ICT4D, learning more about mapping technology, inequality, and security.


Cloud Computing: The Good and The Bad

Speaker Adam Papendieck discussed cloud computing as one of the latest developments in data and Internet technology. Cloud computing, or “the cloud” as Adam says, is simply the concept of storing and managing data that is accessible anywhere at anytime. While simultaneously changing business models and the way people interact here, it is highly beneficial to developing nations as well, breaking down barriers to entry and helping entrepreneurs, small and large scale businesses, researchers, and governments. These clouds are not white, puffy, and loose. They are powerful, offering IT infrastructure at a reasonable cost. In fact, in India, cloud computing is projected to grow into a 15 billion dollar industry by next year. In India, Africa, and South America cloud computing gives organizations a way to connect through online applications like Google Docs. Developing countries can tap into cloud resources and compete, which provides many possibilities.

The possibilities of the cloud stretch to many different devices.

The possibilities of the cloud stretch to many different devices.

What I found particularly interesting is that the cloud also has its challenges, and furthermore, these challenges are very similar to problems that we have seen with many other ICT initiatives. The lack of connectivity and bandwidth capabilities in many areas of the world is a huge issue. The large data that the cloud can account for requires more bandwidth, making it something that some areas will not be able to utilize. Electricity remains unpredictable in some regions, making information on the cloud vulnerable to loss. And, as we saw with cyber security, cloud users must be aware of backup, privacy, and security issues. Developing countries must keep these things in mind. While cloud computing is a powerful tool for all, challenges for developing countries remain.


Global CyberLympics – A Competition for Hackers

After listening to Ralph Russo discuss cyber attacks and cyber security, I was interested in seeing how Sri Lanka was involved in these movements. While there is not a lot of news offered about Sri Lanka’s policies, I did come across this interesting competition of sorts. Global CyberLympics, it is called, is “the biggest hackathon on the planet.” For hackers worldwide, this competition is driven by awareness and peace-keeping intentions and is endorsed by the UN’s Cybersecurity arm as well as countless other cybersecurity agencies. Why would there be such a competition? In order to promote awareness on ethical hacking and to help connect foreign ethical hackers, teams compete in a series of hacker games. Early rounds include “snooping, tracking attacks, and analyzing network weaknesses.” Later, teams actively hack, “capturing and then defending their piece of the network against everybody else.”

Sri Lanka, surprisingly, came in with a six-member team and made it to the finals in the end of October. According to the Global CyberLympics Twitter page, Sri Lanka ranked 8th in the world, losing to countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Australia, and the Netherlands. They lost in the Capture the Flag skill challenge, outlined here along with the other round challenges. Ironically, Sri Lanka does well in this competition, while they struggle with ICTs in many areas.


NYU’s Use of Social Media – Will It Last?

So, we’ve seen in class how social media had an impact during Hurricane Sandy. Specifically, the NYU Local news page displays an article that discusses NYU’s success in using social media. The real question asked here is will the embrace of social media last post-Hurricane Sandy?

The University website was constantly updated during and after Hurricane Sandy, getting great reviews from the NYU Local. “The University’s website was updated quickly with alerts, cancellation notices and pages for relief donation and volunteer opportunities; so many emails passed through our inboxes that we nearly fulfilled Bloomberg’s recommendation to read a book.” They note that Facebook was used to provide notice to students about school cancellation – the first time that NYU has really taken advantage of their Facebook community. Unfortunately, nobody really noticed the action from the typically dormant Facebook page. The emergency Twitter account (@nyuinfoalert) was used once campus remembered that it existed.

The use of social media during a disaster like this can be very effective if used the right way. This is definitely something that Hurricane Sandy is proving. Because not as many people know about the University Twitter page, many people think that Facebook is more effective. But, this does not seem to be the case. Reaching every kind of NYU student would be virtually impossible. NYU used many different mediums to reach students, making their use of social media during the storm very effective. The staff of the NYU Local just hope that the embrace of social media across campus is a lasting feeling. As we’ve seen in class, social media and communication can go a long way.


ICT Savvy Universities in East Africa

Within the education sector, ICTs are used to access information from many different mediums. This can be accessed from computers, laptops, mobile phones, e-readers, radio, etcetera. In East Africa, a recent list of universities has been announced, ranking the best “ICT Savvy” institutions in the region. Five Kenyan universities were among those top 100 establishments. Universities in Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania were highly ranked as well.

The Top Universities:

Makerere University of Uganda

Strathmore

Busitema University of Uganda

School of Finance and Banking of Rwanda

African Virtual University of Kenya

Makerere University

University of Nairobi

Mount Kenya University

Kenyatta University

The various universities were measured based on “how universities have complied with ICT in terms of embracing technology for both students and lecturers.” Between April and October 2012, a survey was created in determining which higher education institutions made the cut regarding ICT use in teaching and enhancing education. Face-to-face questionnaires were conducted in determining these factors. The universities that best met the practices of management, development, and sustenance of university education worldwide made the list.

What is interesting to note is that these universities in East Africa are keeping up with international universities in embracing ICT facilities. Kenya, in particular, has heavily invested in ICT compared to other African universities. Hopefully this spreads to include many more universities in time to come. This is exciting news within the education sector for ICTs.


Using Cell Phones to Combat Poverty

New research has found that social media and access to ICT is a confirmed pathway out of poverty. This finding is huge in the ICT world because it proves that merely a mobile phone can lead to an increase in income. This kind of result is something that academics, government officials, and NGOs have been looking for to confirm a way to overcome poverty and inequality. This study occurred during 2008 and 2010 where, during dramatic food price increases and economic crisis, “the income of the poorest people who had access to mobile phones went up.”

An African woman using a mobile phone in her village.

Adding education and entrepreneurship skills, another finding suggests, increases income even further. How? Well, mobile phones can be used to grow income with communication networks, checking on food prices, job offers, or even finding ways to send money to relatives. Farmers in Uganda and Rwanda can send SMS messages to a free number to hear what coffee prices are in local markets. M-Pesa, the East Africa mobile-based service that we studied in class, was discussed as a hugely successful initiative that enabled 17 million people to deposit, withdraw, and transfer money.

What experts are looking to do is to “create platforms that bypass traditional barriers of cost and accessibility and equip youth with the skills and information they need to seek out opportunities.” The mobile technology can become a bridge to many different connections. Like the case studies that we looked at in class regarding India, Kenya, and Afghanistan, given the chance, mobile phones can make a huge difference.